Engaging new members ... one at a time

While working at a North Hollywood practice, Spartak Delakyan, DDS, MS, received a phone call from CDA that took him by surprise. Delakyan, who had recently joined the organization, heard a pleasant voice on the other end of the line that welcomed him to CDA and asked if he needed anything.

“She was very nice and tried to be as brief as possible because I was busy,” said Delakyan. “She introduced herself and let me know that she is available either by phone or email, if I had any questions or concerns.”

The voice on the phone belonged to CDA Member Concierge Terry Fong, RDH, who personally calls all new members as part of a program designed to provide service and resources, not only from CDA, but also local components and the ADA — a tripartite that offers dentists a wealth of information to keep   their practices running smoothly.

CDA’s member concierge program began a year ago and is now garnering attention nationally from other organizations recognizing the importance of member service and exploring ways to achieve it.

“I ask them why they joined and say, ‘I want to talk to you about ways to serve you better,’” said Fong, who finds out what dentists need and suggests customized resources in areas such as education, advocacy, protection, practice support and community. “I tell them, ‘It’s not just me, CDA has 200 employees working on your behalf and we’re here to serve you.’”

Fong, who’s worked in CDA’s member services department for 25 years, accepted the role of member concierge in part to fit her bubbly personality in addition to her desire to serve members. She personally calls all new members — 1,060 in 2012 — and has made contact with approximately 600, including a recent transplant from the East Coast.

“CDA’s concierge pointed me in the right direction in order to help me address my questions and concerns that I had during my transition from the Massachusetts Dental Society to CDA,” said Ani Janbazian Kartounian, DMD, of Glendale, who added that joining CDA has helped her get up to speed on state-specific regulations.

Fong, who follows up her phone calls with emails to offer member-specific resources, said she often steers new members like Matthew Woods, DMD, to the CDA Compass (cda.org/compass) where dentists can find more than 600 resources, including the Guide for the New Dentist and other helpful information related to practice management, dental benefit plans and regulatory compliance.

“When CDA’s member concierge contacted me, I told her that I was interested in consent forms on various procedures and regulations, including HIPAA, and she told me where to find them on the Compass,” said Woods, who indicated he joined CDA to obtain TDIC insurance for his Nevada City practice. “It was nice to have support from someone and a place to go to find answers to questions.”

The first-year success of CDA’s member concierge program has caught the attention of other associations, which are interested in developing similar service-oriented programs for their new members.

“Associations are seeing it as a member engagement tool, a way to personally connect with new members, welcome them to an organization and have a lasting impact on them,” said Fong, who previously worked as a dental hygienist for 16 years and whose husband and daughter (both dentists) share a Sacramento area practice. “Member-service organizations such as CDA have so much to offer and we want our dentists to know we’re here to support them and help them make their practices successful.”
Fong said many new dentists to the organization are fresh out of dental school and are looking for information about job opportunities.

“I let them know that we have a job classified section on cda.org and it’s free of charge,” said Fong. “I encourage them to place an ‘employment seekers’ ad and to check out the job listings. But more importantly, I encourage them to reach out, connect and participate with their component dental societies, where connections with fellow dentists are key.”

Fong checks in with new members at intervals of six months and one year to see how they’re doing. For dentists like Delakyan, who was seeking information about potential areas to open a new practice, the personal contact eased his transition from dental school into full-time dentist.

“I’d like to thank Terry for all of her help,” said Delakyan. “Every question I asked, if she didn’t know the answer, she’d find out and send me in the right direction.”

If you’re a new member seeking information about CDA resources, contact Terry Fong at 916.554.4975 or email her.

Topics: Membership